Modal Verbs in Perfect Tense - Double Infinitive

There are two forms of the past participle of the modal verb in German. The first form is the regular past participle which is formed with the prefix ge- and the ending -t:

Warum ist Anton nicht gekommen? - Why didn't Anton come?

He hat es nicht gewollt. - He didn't want to.

The second form is identical with the infinitive and is used in the double infinitive construction. The term refers to the presence of two infinitives, full verb + modal verb, at the end of the clause that replaces the past participle. Modal verbs used in the double infinitive construction will always have an accusative object.

Walter hat nicht kommen wollen. - Walter didn't want to come.

Ich habe gestern Walter anrufen müssen. - I had to call Walter yesterday.

Er hat Martin um 10 Uhr anrufen wollen. - He wanted to call Martin at 10 o'clock.

Ihr habt zum Flughafen fahren sollen. - You guys were supposed to go to the airport.

There are also three other verbs that can be used in the double infinitive constructions: sehen, hören, and lassen.

Er hat mich lange warten lassen. - She made me wait for a long time.

Ich habe ihn fahren lassen. - I let him drive away.

The double infinitive with the verbs of perception (fühlen, hören, sehen, spüren) becomes increasingly popular in the present perfect, although this usage is considered substandard.

Hast du ihn kommen sehen? - Did you see him coming?

Haben Sie sie abfahren sehen? - Did you see her leaving?


Grammar Patterns

Listening Comprehension